Every leaflet being distributed round Glasgow South will be available on this website as soon as they become available. For updates, visit the Campaign 2015 page
Labour tonight rejected the government’s “failing” austerity plan, calling on ministers to adopt a “different, fairer and more balanced” approach to reducing the nation’s deficit.
But while Labour marched into the lobbies at the House of Commons to support their long-held position, Nationalist MPs abstained.
Glasgow South MP Tom Harris said: “Given how much of a song and dance the Nationalists love to make about Opposition day votes when it suits them, I’m surprised that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote with Labour against the Chancellor’s failed austerity programme.
“This illustrates the Nationalists’ blind tribalism – they would rather consign Scots to a failed Tory economic plan than be seen to support the only alternative available – Labour’s plan for growth.
“So much for the party that claims always to put Scotland first.”
The ful text of today’s Labour motion, which was defeated by a combination of Tory and LibDem MPs, reads:
That this House rejects the government’s failing austerity plan set out in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which the Office for budget responsibility has said will take public spending back to a share of national income not seen since the late 1930s, before the National Health Service came into existence; notes that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that this would entail cuts on a colossal scale and has raised concerns that this could involve a fundamental reimagining of the role of the state; further notes that the Chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that these spending figures were based on the policy assumption presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and signed off by the Quad, which consists of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury; and calls on the government to instead adopt a different, fairer and more balanced approach, which involves sensible reductions in public spending, a reversal of this Government’s £3 billion-a-year top rate of income tax cut for people earning over £150,000 and an economic plan that delivers the sustained rises in living standards needed to boost tax revenues, in order to get the current budget into surplus and national debt as a share of GDP falling as soon as possible in the next Parliament.
But such a change is still unnecessary, the Glasgow South MP has written, even after the Smith Commission delivers the next round of devolution to Holyrood.
Every proposal suggested to answer the so-called West Lothian Question so far is unworkable and impractical, not to say undemocratic, Tom wrote on the LabourList website.
He said: “EVEL (English Votes for English Laws) would be a mess. It would create more problems than it would solve and would be constantly argued about and be subject to amendment.”
He added: “… an English Parliament – with, crucially, precisely the same powers and responsibilities given to the Scottish Parliament, with each constituency represented not only by an MP but also a Member of the English Parliament – is the only solution that addresses every concern on both sides of the debate.”
However, Tom added a caveat: “But for what it’s worth, I don’t think one is needed (as I wrote in a guest post on the site of the Campaign for an English Parliament a few years ago).”
SNP settle for time-limited, no-strings-attached fracking moratorium, while Labour MPs force real government U-turn
It has been forced to put into law conditions to ensure that no extraction can take place until the regulations are overhauled.
Glasgow South MP Tom Harris said: “Labour proposed an amendment to stop fracking unless a series of tough conditions are first met. At the last minute, and knowing that they were about to be defeated by Labour and their own backbenchers, the government accepted Labour’s amendment. This now means these robust regulatory conditions and protections are now in the Bill, and if it receives Royal Assent will become law.
“This is a significant defeat for the government, and stops the irresponsible approach the Tories had been taking to shale gas, and the focus will now be on ensuring that the landscape, water supplies and communities are given stronger protections and standards to be met. Labour has argued since March 2012 that fracking can only go ahead with robust regulation, comprehensive monitoring and local consent.
“This is also a more comprehensive and responsible approach than our opponents in the SNP, who voted for a simple time-limited moratorium with no conditions attached. Their approach is clearly all about quick press releases and soundbites, not about making a real difference in people’s lives.
“Provisions within our amendment was supported by a number of bodies, including the National Trust, RSPB, Friends of the Earth, Local Government Association, Unite and GMB trade unions.
“In Scotland, the Scottish government already has responsibility for planning and environmental permitting. This gives the Scottish government an effective veto of any activity in Scotland, although they have yet to confirm how – or if – they intend to use their powers in relation to fracking developments in Scotland. Separately, having accepted a Labour amendment, there will be no changes to rights to underground access in Scotland unless the Scottish government chooses to make them. This power, in line with the Smith Agreement, has now effectively been devolved.
“Scottish Labour have set out our policy in Scotland, which includes a triple lock of a tough baseline study, learning from fracking experience elsewhere in the UK, and a final, conclusive, vote of local communities to endorse any application granted permission for fracking. It is now up to the Scottish government to set out their approach to using their powers on this matter in Scotland.”
Tom Harris today brought the case of the Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi to David Cameron’s attention during Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Glasgow South MP appealed to the Prime Minister to condemn the “barbaric and medieval” regime for imposing a sentence of 1000 lashes – to be administered at 50 per week during 20 weekly sessions – and 10 years in prison.
“Does he agree that our international alliances should be built more on human rights and less on economic muscle?” he asked Mr Cameron.
The Prime Minister’s answer, unfortunately, was disappointing: he seemed to suggest the government would only make representations to the Saudi government if Mr Badawi were a British citizen, which he isn’t.
Tom said later: “This is an appalling case which highlights just how backward the state of Saudi Arabia is. And it is hypocritical, to say the least, for Saudi government officials to condemn the slaughter of Charlie Hebdo writers and staff, while insisting that this kind of barbaric treatment can be meted out to any of its citizens who dare to express views which are not government sanctioned.”
Watch Tom’s question to the Prime Minister here.
Read more about Raif Badawi here.
Sign the petition for his release here.
New Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, today led his MPs through the lobbies in an attempt to abolish the hated Bedroom Tax.
Glasgow South MP Tom Harris joined Jim and parliamentary colleagues from across the country in a bid to persuade the government to scrap the tax, which Tom described as “the most hated tax since the poll tax.”
‘Unfortunately, despite winning the argument, and despite the posturing of LibDem MPs, we were once again defeated in the lobbies,” said Tom. “But the next Labour government will prioritise scrapping this dreadful measure.”
Murphy, the East Renfrewshire MP vying to become Scottish Labour’s new leader, made the comments during a speech in Glasgow yesterday. Murphy also challenged the SNP to match his commitment to use the new tax powers to levy a 50 per cent tax rate on Scots earning more than £150,000 annually.
Tom said: “There is absolutely no point in demanding new powers for their own sake. The only reason new powers for Holyrood should be sought is in order to use them. Jim Murphy has promised he will do just that. Now it’s time for the SNP to follow his lead.
“So far, the SNP’s only tax commitment has been to cut corporation tax, saving wealthy business owners millions. Will they now match their talk on ‘social justice’ with real action, and pledge to raise the top rate of tax?”
Tom acknowledged that there were some in Scotland who have previously opposed full devolution of income tax, but appealed to them to back it as part of efforts to heal the rifts caused by the divisive and heated referendum campaign:
“Whatever the views of nationalist activists, the majority of those who voted Yes are democrats who, however reluctantly, accept the democratic will of the Scottish people. It is now incumbent on those who supported the No campaign to acknowledge that position and perhaps to reciprocate by moving to a position a majority of Scots can live with.”
Tom was one of a number of parliamentarians who nominated Jim Murphy for the position of Scottish leader. His local constituency parties, Glasgow Cathcart and Glasgow Southside subsequently gave supporting nominations to him.
Local MP Tom Harris was invited to present Veteran’s Badges to a number of patrons of the church’s Coming Home Centre, set up to provide support services to those who have served in the nation’s military.
The presentations took place during the church’s annual Remembrance Day service at which Tom also laid a wreath on behalf of the House of Commons.
Tom told the congregation: “Since the Veteran’s Badge was launched, I’ve had the privilege of presenting it to many ex-service men and women from this constituency. It is a particular honour to be asked to do so duiring theis special Remembrance Day event.
“The badge, like its recipients, is modest, dignified and important. It should be worn with pride.”